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FYI, in addition to publishing Low End Mac and doing some Mac consulting, I'm working a third shift job 2 to 4 nights a week, so replying to emails and phone calls may take some time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Early iMac G4 Mini FAQ

I've received some inquiries lately regarding early G4 iMacs (the 2002 and Early 2003 models) that don't quite meet the hardware requirements for certain apps.

Can I upgrade or overclock the CPU?
There are no CPU upgrades available, and the general consensus among overclockers is that it's not worth the effort for the small boost in speed. If you need more processing power, you need to move to a more powerful iMac.

Can I upgrade the USB 1.1 port to USB 2.0?
There is no practical way to upgrade the ports on G4 iMacs. If you want or need USB 2.0, you need to buy a last generation (15" 1 GHz, 17" or 20" 1.25 GHz) model.

It's sluggish under Tiger or Jaguar. Can I install more than 1GB of RAM?
No, the early models do not support that. Only the Late 2003 G4 iMacs support 2GB of RAM - and that will improve performance.

Can I upgrade the video card?
No, there is no separate "video card" in G4 iMacs. The last generation G4 iMacs have GeForce 4MX video, which is a step up from GeForce 2MX in earlier models.

The final revision of the G4 iMac is the best of the bunch - it runs a faster CPU, supports more RAM, has better graphics, and supports USB 2.0. If you love the iMac G4 design but have run up against the limitations of the 2002 or Early 2003 models, your only real upgrade option is a Late 2003 iMac.

3 Monitors, 1 Mac

Received an interesting call this morning. The client is developing a new website and needs a Mac that can support 3 displays: two for the user, and one that clients can look at. The Mac Pro isn't really an option right now - even the rare used Mac Pro goes for $2,000 and up. (If not for that third display, I would have suggested a 2009 Mac mini.)

This machine will also be an Internet server, so the client wants a good amount of power. Running "Snow Leopard" would be nice, but it's not essential. In the end, I suggested he contact Mac of All Trades, which had a Power Mac G5 Quad available for $1,000 last week. Plenty of power, and with a second PCI Express video card, easily able to support 3 displays.

In addition, it can use up to 16 GB of RAM, runs Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard", and uses the same SATA drives as today's Intel-based Macs. RAM is pretty affordable at $22 for 2GB (putting 2GB in my G4 Power Mac would cost $60), and he'll also be able to verify that everything on the site is compatible with PowerPC Macs, not just current Intel ones.